This past Monday was a major milestone in my life: it was my “last first day of school” (I write this in quotations as I don’t know what the future holds- I may go to grad school one day). But in all seriousness, can I get a HALLELUJAH? I’m graduating in December!
I’ve been in and out of college for the last ten years and man, these ten years have been filled with found memories and learning lessons. I already knew that I was extremely bad at math going into university (it took three times to pass Math128) but I didn’t think that I would like write advertising copy and questions for focus groups so much (can I get research job, anyone?). Below is some tidbits of my education during the last decade…
1) Alicia Dixon was one of the first girls I met my freshmen year, living in the dorm. We’d always run into each other early in the morning, as we were the only ones on our floor who took an 8am Monday morning class. I would sleepily walk into the bathroom and she would flag me down with one of her frantic friendly waves and her big, lovely smile. “Ty! Ty!” (as I was called my first year of college). “Good morning! How are you?” We hung out in her room after class, singing to Kelly Clarkson’s latest album and talking about auditioning for American Idol. We were out at WinCo one day when we reflected our first meeting. “You always looked so sad,” Alicia said. “Your head was always down. That’s why I’d always waved to you like I was a crazy person- I was trying to get you to smile.” Since then, I stopped looking down when I walked, holding my head up forever high. Alicia moved south after her second year of school and I haven’t talked to her since but I remember the lesson she taught me and now, I walk with pride in myself.
2) With the vein of meeting Alicia, you can meet your closest friends in the most random places during college. I met my dearest friends in campus clubs, the Mormon church, during breakfast in the dorm cafeteria, the (former) ASUN Bookstore, in film class while crushing on the same guy. It was the openness of heart that brought us together. I think about this openness, of the heart and mind, now during this semester seeing that I’m the oldest student in my Spanish culture class- and how that trait is one of the most important ones I hold and value. So what that everyone is nine years younger than me? I’m excited to make new friends this semester and I’m grateful for the ones who stuck by my side. With an open mind, my arms are stretched wide and ready to embrace whatever new experience comes my way.
3) Never go to class inebriated (I think that is pretty self-explanatory without a crazy story).
4) Above all else, the greatest lesson I learned is not to give up. When I dropped out of school, I was convinced that I was never going to go back- and I was fine with that. I was getting jobs and making a decent wage without a degree- better than some of my peers with ones. When I made the decision to go back to school, I thought about what it would feel like to finish and I’d think about that feeling when class got too difficult or when I didn’t feel like studying. It’s that feeling that kept (and keeps) me going- and maybe just how excited I am to decorate my graduation cap at the end of the semester.
Dear reader; if you are in school, I hope you have a safe and successful semester. For those out of college I hope you look affectionately look back at your years in school and how they shaped your life. When my mom dropped me off at the dorms that Sunday night back in 2004, she told me that these years will be the best of my life. Reflecting on that now, these have been great years- the best years I had discovering myself and my potential- but they are only leading up to even better ones. The best days to all of us.